Famous auteur Guillermo del Toro has had a lot of news swirling about what he will be working on following the release of his Netflix original series Trollhunters. He's no longer serving as the director on Pacific Rim: Uprising, but is instead taking up a different (and original) project titled: The Shape of Water. The movie is set to star Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stulbarg, Octavia Spencer and del Toro good luck charm Doug Jones. Beyond the fact that The Shape of Water is set in 1963 against the backdrop of the Cold War, virtually no details have been made available to the public.
In a recent interview, Doug Jones (who you may remember from his creature appearances in del Toro's Hellboy 1 & 2, Pan's Labyrinth and Crimson Peak), shared some of the first insights into The Shape of Water that are available. Most interesting of all is the revelation that Jones will be returning as another wonderfully frightening creature - and this one will be a fish-man.
Here is what Jones revealed about the plot for The Shape of Water, during an interview that he conducted with Collider:
“It’s a 1963 drama—it’s not a sci-fi [film], it’s not a genre film, but I am a creature in it. I’m a fish man that’s kind of a one-off. I’m an enigma, nobody knows where I came from; I’m the last of my species so I’m like a natural anomaly. And I’m being studied and tested in a U.S. government facility in 1963, so the Russian Cold War is on, the race for space is on, so there’s all that backdrop and that undercurrent. I’m being tested for how can they use me for advantages in military or space travel, or my technology—can we make this usable for humans? So they’re trying to keep me a secret from the Russians.”
Before Jones confirmed that he would be playing this fish creature, many people have speculated that Shannon would be inhabiting the creature in del Toro's film. This may have been fueled from when Shannon teased his character in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice appearing with aquatic features. Fish creatures aside, Jones went on to explain that the a love story is really what is at the heart of The Shape of Water:
“Meanwhile, there’s a love story that brews out of it, and that would be the cleaning lady played by Sally Hawkins. She comes and finds me, has sympathy on me, and then that’s the story that you’re really gonna follow with this whole backdrop.”
Hellboy, The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth are all films that del Toro has set against the backdrop of an important historical event, whereas Crimson Peak and Pacific Rim focus around strong bonds (both platonic and romantic). It seems that he is reaching for familiar themes for The Shape of Water, and Jones seems to feel that del Toro's new movie could garner the same accolades that Pan's Labyrinth received (Oscar-nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film), as a result:
“It is artfully and beautifully [made]—if this doesn’t end up with Guillermo back at the Oscars, I will be surprised. I will be very surprised.”
Guillermo del Toro is due for a big critical success in the wake of both Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak - films that found fans within their genres, although not as much among a wider audience - and each detail revealed by Jones here seems like a step in the right direction. The Shape of Water could be shaping up to be another defining project that will sit alongside Pan's Labyrinth.
With that being said, The Shape of Water may yet be too similar to what audiences have seen from del Toro in the past and unable to garner a wider audience. There are still many details to be revealed about the movie that could make or break people's interest in seeing it - but we will no doubt learn more about that, over the months that lie ahead.
We will keep you updated on The Shape of Water as development continues.